South Korea’s KHNP currently best placed for completion of nuclear units, says Drábová

Dana Drábová

A number of companies are in the running for lucrative contracts to build new nuclear units in the Czech Republic. Now the head of the State Office for Nuclear Safety says that a South Korean firm looks best placed to get the job. Dana Drábová says KHNP currently has the best references in regards to finishing construction on time and on budget.

Dana Drábová | Photo: Jana Trpišovská,  Czech Radio
Both politicians and energy executives in the Czech Republic have long been debating the expensive issue of building new units in the country’s nuclear power stations.

While there is a general consensus that nuclear power is the most viable cheap power source, there has been little forward movement regarding the questions of finding a supplier as well as the way in which the investment would be undertaken.

Currently there are at least three proposals for financing the project and they revolve very much around the Czech energy giant ČEZ, more than two thirds of whose shares are owned by the state.

Speaking on Sunday, the chief sales and strategy officer of ČEZ, Pavel Cyrani, stated that the ball now lies with the government, with ČEZ ready to act on any proposal issued by the majority shareholder.

According to government special envoy for nuclear energy, Ján Štuller this decision is likely to come by the end of the year and the lowest price per unit is expected around CZK 80 to 150 billion.

Meanwhile, the head of the State Office for Nuclear Safety, Dana Drábová, has shed some light on how the lengthy debate is likely to affect the finish date.

“This is in my opinion a quite open-ended question, because there is a time schedule in the state energy strategy saying that the new unit should be ready by 2035. However, now we can say that there is at least a two to three year delay in this schedule, so perhaps 2040 is a realistic estimate.“

Illustrative photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio
Another question which has been in the spotlight regarding the nuclear construction project is that of selecting the supplier company. Currently there are six companies being considered: Rosatom, KHNP, CGN, Westinghouse, EDF and ATMEA.

Drábová, whose office’s primary concern is nuclear safety, says that further analysis is needed, but that the preliminary information speaks most positively for KHNP.

“To assess each of them is very difficult, but we can say that in terms of the ability of building on time and on budget, perhaps the best reference is for the Korean company, KHNP, delivering for the United Arab Emirates’ site Baraka.

“However, this is just the parameter of time and budget; there are many more that need to be assessed.”

Drábová states that the most important parameter will be safety concerns and that these have not been assessed yet.